What Not to Wear on Halloween — Blackface - Higher Education

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What Not to Wear on Halloween — Blackface

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The social media feeds were buzzing over the weekend about some Hollywood celebrity wearing blackface to a costume party.

Julianne Hough?

That’s not pronounced “hoe” as in garden tool. But “huff” as in “rough.”

But it’s hard to imagine she didn’t expect any kind of reaction when she showed up to a party in heavier than normal makeup.

It was an apparent tribute to actress Uzo Aduba, who plays the character “Crazy Eyes,” in the Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black.”

Maybe she thought just by putting on the bronzing cream extra heavy, no one would notice. It’s not like she used Shinola and big lips.

She must have thought her homage was a little different, with the hair, the orange smock. She looked like the character a bit. But a Halloween party isn’t a “Go as your favorite Negro,” party.

Hough was quick to tweet:

“I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New Black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”

The Twitterverse was not kind in its response.

Frankly, it’s hard to think Hough’s act of going to a Halloween party in blackface was all that innocent.

I’m thinking maybe Hough is tired of hoofing it with B –list celebrities and wants to put some heat on her career.

I know when I first heard of this, I asked “Julianne Who?”

But that just makes this little episode even more disgusting.

Related:  The Double-Edged Sword of Stereotypes

I can understand an homage to Aduba, but we are still in sensitive times when blackface conjures up the racist past of America in general, and showbiz in particular.

Despite stars like Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, and producers like Tyler Perry, we’re just not at the point where blackface doesn’t strike a discordant truth about race in this country.

So let’s hope that Hough is just some clueless ditzy blonde with a Netflix account who likes Crazy Eyes.

But if she or her handlers anticipated the backlash that would result in publicity for her, then that’s a little different, and more despicable than your garden-variety racism.

We’re talking calculated racism for self-promotion. You know it’s racist, but you do it anyway for the pub.

Have we really reached a point where there’s no such thing as bad publicity for a racist action, as long as you can apologize on Twitter afterward?

If that’s the case, we have reached a new low in this era of diversity.

Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.aaldef.org/blog) Like him at www.facebook.com/emilguillermo.media ; [email protected]

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One Response to What Not to Wear on Halloween — Blackface

  1. College students are more aware of the idea that going in costume
    as your favorite racial stereotype is a no-no.
    This poster campaign at the University of Colorado actually started at Ohio University.

    http://mije.org/richardprince/elaine-rivera-dies-worked-english-spanish-media#costumes

    Emil Guillermo
    October 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm

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